For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Sunday, 30 October 2011

My Feet Are Singing

Anyone fancy a volcano tour?


I stand the risk of being guilty of hyperbole, but I can honestly say that this, the penultimate day of my journey, was scenically the most magnificent. After the watershed of Raffy, my eyes fell upon a truly ravishing landscape of wooded hills and extinct volcanoes. After several hours of climbing through dense forest, this view was a revelation, almost an epiphany. Wave upon wave of flat-topped peaks and ridges receded to a hazy horizon...


What an idyllic place for a midday picnic! In fact I did have my lunch here, and a little siesta...


Who wouldn't want to live in this stone cottage... 


... overlooking such a spectacular landscape?



I'm now approaching the village of Queyrières...


Look closely and you will see that it lies at the foot of a huge and impressive lump of volcanic basalt rock...


I was once again blessed with warm and sunny weather. This, plus the captivating scenery, combined to turn the day into a kind of sensual ecstasy. I was not tired, I was quite fit now, there was no strain on my body. As they say in pilgrim circles, my feet were 'singing'. I'll let the pictures do the talking, for there is no way I can adequately describe this sublime landscape or the happy mood I was in...





Nearing Saint-Julien-Chapteuil, I was almost reluctant to admit that the day was coming to a close. My feelings of joy and gratitude were starting to be tinged with a bittersweet nostalgia, and a pricking sadness that my pilgrimage would soon be at an end...


Here's the church at Saint-Julien and its wonderful facade, in the evening sunlight's glow...

12 comments:

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

My heart would have been soaring in this kind of landscape too Robert, but I am not sure my feet have ever done any 'singing'. I seem to remember them always feeling tired and sore by day's end, no matter how glorious the views! Ahhhhhh but wouldn't it have been worth it all to be in these landscapes!

Val said...

sigh - so beautiful. the stone cottage - those breathtaking views, the appaloosa! wonderful. how far do you walk in a day, generally?

Ruth said...

There is nothing much to say from this end either. The scenes are so incredibly beautiful that even I, here, feel the pain of it. A person can only take so much beauty. I am understanding your ecstasy upon your return. To get to this point, at near-journey's end, I don't know bu language pales.

Are those luscious mounds called Figues Vertes . . "Green Figs"?

The Solitary Walker said...

Kiwi - it's been really great to share all this beauty, and know others appreciate it too...

Val - thanks for your visit. On this trip I walked an average of 24 km a day.

Yes, Ruth, pictures (and music) can often speak louder than words. But we are both word people, aren't we - so we try...

The wonderful Irish poet Moya Cannon once used the phrase 'ambushed by beauty' in one of her poems - which has stuck with me. You can read the whole poem in my post at solitary-walker.blogspot.com/2008/06/ambushed-by-beauty_07.html

Also I once came across the idea in some book about the mountains of Britain that a deep exposure to dramatic natural beauty over a few weeks 'softens you up' for the real world when you must eventually return to it - in other words, you are emotionally more naked and raw and exposed, so that you have to develop a kind of necessary carapace and harden yourself up to deal with some of the ugliness and ordinariness again. Lots of questions, though, raised here, of course - such as: can't we train ourselves to see the beauty in even the most smallest, most ordinary and insignificant things? We can't get away from the mundane, the ugly, the difficult, the painful - so can't we adapt and make it endurable by carrying some beauty within us and spreading it around?

If those luscious mounds aren't known locally as 'green figs', they ought to be. Some outcrops of basalt are definitely called 'organs', however - as the bizarre vertical-on-horizontal structure of the strata resemble the keyboard and pipes of an organ. I guess it's back to the baptist or Methodist church here! More about these basaltic organ pipes in my next post...

The Weaver of Grass said...

Beautiful landscape Robert, but I do think that by this time my feet would have been stinging rather than singing.

Ruth said...

Yes.

I believe that if a person cannot find beauty in the everyday ordinary, then such a landscape as you encountered on your pilgrimage step after step, might be for that person a mere postcard, or trophy in a travel album. Somehow I feel that thumbing beauty out of the mundane and even ugly truth of our daily existence is to tend the fire of all the world's beauty. And if we're fortunate enough, we will be allowed to witness beauty now and then so supreme that our already coaxed fires will burn in us almost beyond what we can hold. But then, of course, we can release it.

The Solitary Walker said...

Actually I think my feet were stinking rather than singing most of the time, Pat.

Mimmu said...

I came here from Ruth`s blog and enjoy seeing your posts and writings even I am so sad with my poor English. But I understand a little more than I can express, so I really enjoy reading Ruth`s and your writings.

The Solitary Walker said...

Ruth - I agree. And beautifully put, if I may say so. Beauty is all around us, if only we had eyes to behold it and hearts to seize it. It's universal, platonic - not fixed in the particular mountainscape, the obviously sublime, but to be found leaking everywhere, and in everything we do, without and within, seamlessly.

I sometimes think our skins are so thin, the interior and exterior world mingle, and ultimately are one and the same.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Mimmu, for your visit. The photos on your own blog are wonderful!

George said...

Stunningly beautiful photos, Robert, and I enjoyed the discussion about beauty and where it can be found. As you will note from my own postings, I have always been impressed by the beauty that can be found in the ordinary when we simply take the time to see properly. That said, one can never diminish the beauty of the extraordinary, such as you found on this wonderful day in southwest France. Thanks so much for sharing this experience. There is a large chorus of feet singing along with you.

zoompal said...

haha.."singing" feet..good one. Gorgeous landscapes :)

www.zoompal.com